Status Update: Here’s What’s Up with California Ladies Now

Mount Saint Mary’s University released its fourth report on the status of the state’s women and girls this week

Mount Saint Mary’s University released its fourth annual Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California—a study designed to draw attention to the gender gap (spoiler alert: it still exists) and female well-being—on Thursday, and its findings are both inspiring (more than half of the students enrolled in the state’s post-secondary institutions are female) and depressing (women in California are paid just 84 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn; for African American and Latino women, that number drops significantly when the results are filtered by demographic.)

Here are some additional data points the university published:

  • Women in California have a life expectancy of 86.5 years. Heart disease and cancer remain our two leading causes of death.
  • An estimated 40% of California women have at some time experienced violence at the hands of someone they know.
  • Of the state’s 400 largest public companies, only 14 were led by female CEOs in 2014. That’s 3.5%.
  • California women and men are unemployed at roughly the same rate: 9%.
  • While California women make up 97% of the state’s pre-K and kindergarten teachers, they make up only 44% of the state’s post-secondary teachers. And, while they make up 74% of the state’s legal support workers, they represent only 26% of California’s judges and magistrates. In other words, glass ceilings are doing just fine.

To celebrate the report’s release and raise awareness of its findings, the university hosted a half-day conference at the Skirball Cultural Center. Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Sheryl WuDunn and Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media at Mount Saint Mary’s University founder Geena Davis spoke, as did L.A. deputy mayor for homeland security and public safety Eileen Decker, Women’s Foundation of California CEO Surina Khan, Governor Jerry Brown’s executive secretary (ahem, that means chief of staff) Nancy McFadden, and first lady of Los Angeles Amy Elaine Wakeland, who spoke about how her husband’s administration prioritizes women’s issues. She says there’s gender parity among city commissioners for the first time in the city’s history. That’s a big deal, and so is Mount Saint Mary’s announcement that, in addition to studying the status of women and girls in California, they’re working to move the figures in their annual report in the right direction: the university is now raising funds to open a center for the advancement of women.